THE GREAT EAST-WEST TRACK CONTROVERSY
Maybe The Midwest Has It (SI, May 18), but Hamilton B. (Tex) Maule does not. He'd better spread some suntan oil on his head.
In the distance events, Maule neglects Oregon Freshman Dyrol Burleson (beat Laszlo Tabori in Drake mile) and America's best two-miler, Oregon Graduate Bill Dellinger. He forgets California University's half-miler Jerry Siebert and quarter-miler Jack Yerman and USC's 440-man, Bobby Staten. He fails to mention Los Angeles State broad jumper Joel Wiley and Oregon decathlon star Dave Edstrom; ex-collegian hurdlers Ancel Robinson (Fresno State) and Chuck Cobb (Stanford) and quarter-miler Mike Larrabee (USC) are also worthy of note. Some of these athletes, in particular Wiley, Dellinger and Edstrom, appear almost sure things to make the U.S.-Soviet Union dual-meet team.
There's no doubt that track-and-field power is geographically more balanced than it has been in years. But California is still the land of milk and honey. The NCAA and AAU finals should convince all doubters.
PETER F. KUEHL
Redwood City, Calif.
I am in complete agreement with Tex Maule that the Midwest does have it in track.
May 31, 1959
I would like to point out one additional point for our side. Listed by Maule among the men the Pacific Coast will probably provide for the duel with Russia this summer is Max Truex in the distances.
True, Truex is running for the University of Southern California at the present time, but if you check a little closer you'll find he is a transplanted Midwesterner. His home is actually Warsaw, Indiana. USC just stole him.
Sports Editor, The News-Gazette
If the Midwest is getting any stronger in track it is because they are proselyting athletes from California and the rest of the world, not because they are homegrown. We produce 'em, we don't steal 'em. I admit there are a few exceptions (Dallas Long, Max Truex, etc.), but in the majority Pacific Coast athletes are from the Pacific Coast.
P. J. YANICKS
So The Midwest Has It, eh? You're nuts.
The picture accompanying your article is of Ernie Shelby of the University of Kansas. But Shelby is a product of southern California, where he went to high school and junior college.
The day Kansas can beat Southern Cal in the NCAA Championships, much less a dual meet, which would be more significant, is the day it will have a lot more Californians like Shelby on its track roster.
Managing Editor, Daily Trojan
Please, if the West just does manage to come through again—this time in track—make me happy by admitting you were wrong.
•Indeed we will.—ED.
There seems to be civil strife brewing, not over segregation between North and South but over sports between East and West. To all the loyal Californians, and a more chauvinistic group would be hard to find, could it be pointed out that their statements to the effect that the U.S. national track-and-field team will be composed mainly of men and women from the West (not designating Mid-, South- or Far) are self-contradictory? If a team is to be representing a nation it does not matter whether its members are Hawaiians or Rhode Islanders, wealthy heirs attending Yale or Harvard or street cleaners who belong to a local athletic club. The team will be composed of the best we have to offer at the time it is selected.
It is to be hoped that the fans at Franklin Field will also cheer the visitors from behind the Iron Curtain as lustily as our own athletes were cheered in Moscow last summer, although knowing our own national chauvinism in general and Philadelphia fans in particular, I doubt it.
CHARLES G. BLUMSTEIN
We Easterners heartily congratulate our fellow track "nuts" on the West Coast for the fine performances recorded during the initial running of the Mt. San Antonio relays (19TH HOLE, May 18). We do, however, take exception to their claims that the Mt. San Antonio Relays were superior to both the Drake and the Penn relays held in the Midwest and the East on the same weekend. Both the Drake and Penn carnivals began as, and have continued to be through half a century of successful and intensive competition, exclusively college meets with college and university competition.
All the marks set in these meets were made by athletes who are enrolled as full-time students in some institution of higher education, and all as undergraduates.
It has been pointed out that the winning marks in nine out of 15 events at the Mt. San Antonio Relays were superior to those posted in the Drake and Penn relays. Now let us examine the status of the athletes who posted those nine superior marks. In four of those nine events the competitor was not an eligible college student: 1) Dellinger, the two-mile-run winner, is a member of the Air Force team; 2) Stokes, the winner in the hop, step and jump, competes for the Los Angeles Striders; 3) Long, the shotput victor, is a college freshman and would be ineligible in both the Penn and the Drake relays; 4) Babka, the discus throw winner, is a veteran of college competition who is presently competing unattached.
We feel that because the competition in the Mt. San Antonio meet was open to all registered amateur athletes regardless of status or affiliation, and because the Penn and Drake relays are limited to college varsity competitors, the West Coast meet cannot be fairly deemed superior to the other two. The Mt. San Antonio Relays are not in the same class with the Penn and Drake relays and, therefore, should not be compared to them.
We might also add that the Drake Relays produced a new national record in the sprint medley relay with Illinois' 3:17.8, and the Penn Relays contributed a national record in the 480-yard shuttle hurdles with Winston-Salem's 57.5. No national records were established in the Mt. San Antonio Relays.
Duke University Track Team
If you will look up the records of past Olympics, you will find that eastern colleges, clubs and schools have had the largest representation on the Olympic teams and have also scored the most points.
I am referring to the eastern states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and others.
As for Kansas, a midwestern school, they have inveigled a number of eastern high school stars to the Midwest; and in addition to Olympic Discus Champion Oerter, they now have Javelin Star Bill Alley, a Syracuse transfer from New Jersey, and Tom Skutka, miler, also from New Jersey.
J. E. KECK
The Olympic track trials will, of course, precede next year's summer Olympics. And in the trials will come those inevitable and heartbreaking muscle cramps, off days, bumped hurdles, headaches, etc. which have kept and will keep world record holders off the squad.
I believe this situation can be easily remedied if the U.S. Olympic Committee immediately announces that only the first two finishers in each event of the trials qualify for the team. Then the committee could name a third automatic qualifier in each event as a guarantee against a champion's off day.
Palo Alto, Calif.
I have read Tex Maule's track article (SI, May 4) and the anguished responses from your southern California readers (19TH HOLE, May 18) with much interest and enjoyment.
As chairman of our American AAU and Olympic Track & Field committees, I have no preference as to where the members of our national teams come from, whether for the Olympic team, which will compete against all the nations of the world in Rome in 1960, or for the team which will compete against the Russians in Philadelphia this July. Americans all, my only concern is that they be the best to represent the United States in these competitions.
However, as you have used the composition of the team which competed in Moscow last summer as a basis of comparison, it may be pertinent, to keep things in proper perspective, to point out that this team was not made up entirely of athletes from the Far West (including California) and the Midwest (including Texas). There were, after all, 12 representatives from the eastern seaboard (to 10 from the Midwest and Texas and 17 from the Far West) who scored 35 of the 116 points scored by the team in the individual events and furnished three of the eight members of our two winning relay teams.
Like everyone else, I enjoy reading each spring about the fabulous performances of our athletes all over the country—and then comparing them with the results when these athletes get together for national championship competition later in the season. Because of the obvious fallacy of attempting any definitive comparison of performances made under totally different conditions and standards, our national teams are selected solely on the basis of man-to-man competition in a final tryout, rather than on the basis of newspaper clippings.
How did this work out at the Olympic Games at Melbourne in 1956? Of the 66 members of the team, 22 were from the Far West, 12 from the Midwest and Texas and 30 were from the East. This team won gold medals in 13 individual events and in the two relays, for the highest total scored by any nation in modern times. Of the individual gold medals, three were won by Far Westerners (O'Brien, Dumas and Richards, who originally came from the Midwest), five were won by Midwesterners and Texans (Morrow, two; Glenn Davis, Bell and Calhoun, who did all his competing for an eastern school), and Easterners accounted for five (Jenkins, Courtney, Connolly, Campbell and Oerter—the last two having also competed for midwestern schools).
Suffice it to say we are fortunate in having athletes from all parts of our country to call upon and in having such splendid athletes in every part of our country.
U.S. Olympic and National
AAU Men's Track & Field
New York City